Banksy, the British artist and writer whose identity is still unknown, is considered one of the leading exponents of contemporary street art. His works are often satirical and deal with universal themes such as politics, culture and ethics. The aura of mystery that, from choice and out of necessity, is perpetuated whenever Banksy is mentioned has turned him into a mythical figure of our times. His visual protest engages with an enormous and heterogeneous public and makes him one of the best-loved artists among the younger generations. Various exhibitions of Banksy’s work have taken place in art galleries, but until now no public museum has ever given the artist a solo exhibition.
The exhibition curated by Gianni Mercurio, unites under one roof for the first time more than 70 works, including paintings, sculptures and prints by the artist, and accompanied by objects, photographs and video, to take a retrospective look at the work and philosophy of Banksy. The itinerary adopts an unusual and, in its own way, an academic approach in keeping with the mission of a museum such as MUDEC to provide every member of the public with the key to understanding (and appreciating) the cultures of the world and the major themes of contemporary life through all the visual, performing and sound arts. The exhibition has not been authorized by the artist.
Promoted by the Comune di Milano-Cultura and by 24 ORE Cultura-Gruppo 24 ORE, which is also the producer, The Art of Banksy. A Visual Protest is divided into four sections to aid critical reflection on Banksy’s present and future place in the wider context of art history. The “movements” that gave rise to visual forms of protest are related through video-installations in a fusion of words and images, dominated by Banksy’s tendency towards action, as explicitly referred to in his chosen mode of expression. The message and the poetry underlying the series of works known as “Modified Oils”, in which the artist blends genres and periods, are investigated using copies of often universally recognized existing works, but with the addition of some alienating elements. Banksy’s preferred technique of stencilling is examined. He perfected this technique with the two-fold aim of being able to create illegal works at great speed and at the same time get more detail into them, creating high-contrast images, usually monochrome or bichrome, sometimes with the addition of colour to certain details.